Holiday Drinks Around the World

By: Marla Morgan

The most beautiful thing about living in the USA is the fact that we are a melting pot- we are a mixture of diverse people, cultures, and traditions. This is quite evident during the holidays,- just look at all the variations of dishes in our Thanksgiving meal! Having a Puerto Rican dad, my Thanksgiving stuffing is not the typical stuffing… it is a recipe from my great grandmother that includes ground beef, ground pork, raisins, prunes, eggs, crackers, wine…… You might be thinking that this isn’t appetizing, but it really is amazing. It is my favorite Thanksgiving side dish! I love the different cultures that exist among us, and I always strive to venture out and taste new things.

In this article, I will share with you traditional holiday drinks from around the world, some of which you can find here in America!

Puerto Rico

In the states we have eggnog. In Puerto Rico, they have Coquito (which translates to little coconut). Now I love eggnog and believe that the holidays are incomplete without it, however Coquito is a step above eggnog. It is every coconut lover’s dream! It is made with coconut milk, coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and rum (optional). Though it is mostly popular in Puerto Rico, it can be found in other countries. Cubans enjoy coquito with scoops of coconut ice cream, it is made with light coconut juice around the Caribbean, and the Spaniards serve it with turron, a popular candy. This is a holiday beverage that you definitely want to try! Attached is a recipe.


Mexico is popular for having two traditional holiday drinks: Spicy hot chocolate and Ponche Navideño (translates to Christmas punch). Mexican hot chocolate is unlike that of the USAs…it is spicy and is made with semi-sweet chocolate. This traditional drink traces itself to the Maya and Aztecs when they cultivated the cacao tree. The ground cacao beans were used to create a chocolate drink. To counteract the bitterness of the beans, native spices and herbs such as vanilla and chile were added. The addition of sugar appeared later when the Europeans arrived with sugar. Cinnamon made its way into the recipe years later. I tried Mexican hot chocolate a few years ago. It is definitely quite distinct and delicious and something worth trying!

Ponche Navideno: I was lucky enough to try this beverage a few years ago when I was invited to celebrate Christmas with one of my Mexican friends. Apparently some of the ingredients are difficult to find, especially that time of year. This punch is served warm and is made of various dried fruits, sometimes with the addition of alcohol. According to a traditional recipe, it includes Mexican hawthorn (tejecote), guava, prunes, yellow apples, sugar cane, tamarind, cinnamon, sugar, hibiscus, brown sugar (piloncillo), and red wine.


Gluhwein: A drink traditionally consumed around the holidays, its roots originate from Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, aka the first grower of Riesling grapes. This German beverage literally translates to “glow wine” and the most important ingredient is red wine. It is commonly served in outdoor Christmas markets (known as Christkindl). For Germans, Christmas is incomplete without Gluhwien. In addition to red wine, it contains lemon, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and sugar.


Sahlep is a very unique holiday beverage found in Turkey. In addition to containing traditional holiday ingredients such as milk, sugar, and cinnamon, it is special because it contains powder made from the powder of rare wild orchids found in Turkey and West Asia. These orchids add a sweet flavor with hints of floral tones. If you ask me, this sounds like the perfectly sweet beverage.


Uzvar Kompot: This traditional drink is served during Christmas Eve dinner in several European countries. Interestingly, this drink is made from dried fruits! The main fruits used are apples, pears, and prunes. The dried fruits are reconstituted before they are boiled. They are washed thoroughly and left in a pot of room temperature water overnight. The next day, the pot is cooked on moderate heat and simmered for about 15 minutes. Sugar is then added to the mix and stirred. Allow to cool to room temperature so the fruit can infuse into the water (this will take several hours). The mixture is then filtered to remove the dried fruit pieces. Enjoy!

Coquito Recipie

  • Origin: Puerto Rico
  • Makes About 7 Cups
  • Prep time: 5 min.
  • Total time: 5 min., plus chilling time


  • 2 cans (12 oz. each) Evaporated Milk
  • 1 can (15 oz.) Coco Cream of Coconut
  • 1 can(13.5 oz.) Coconut Milk
  • ½ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ½ cup white rum (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish, if desired Cinnamon sticks (optional)


  1. In bowl of blender, add evaporated milk, cream of coconut, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, rum (if using), vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. Blend on high until mixture is well combined, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour coconut mixture into glass bottles; cover. Transfer to refrigerator. Chill until cold.
  3. To serve, stir or shake bottle well to combine. Pour coquito into small serving glasses. Garnish with ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, if desired.


  1. Coquito story. The latin kitchen. Available at: Accessed November 11, 2016.
  2. Holiday drinks from around the world. Global citizen. Available at: Accessed November 11, 2016.
  3. Ponche de frutas navideno. Guia de tacos. Available at: Accessed November 11, 2016.
  4. German glugwein recipe. A taste of wine. Available at: Accessed November 20, 2016.
  5. The history of gluhwein. Market place Europe. Available at: Accessed November 20, 2016.
  6. Foods of Turkey. Foods of Turkey. Available at: Accessed November 20, 2016.
  7. Dried fruit kompot (uzvar). Enjoy your cooking. Available at: Accessed November 20, 2016.

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